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TOP 40 PLAYERS
MINNESOTA VIKINGS NEEDS & TARGETS
POSITIONAL TOP 5 RANKINGS & VIDEO BREAKDOWNS
MINNESOTA VIKINGS DRAFT TRENDS
INMAN: NFC NORTH WORST CASE DRAFT SCENARIOS
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INMAN’S MOCK DRAFT COLLECTION

Before reading, it’s important to note that evaluating a team’s drafting habits is an inexact science. There are myriad variables that come into play: assistant coaches’ opinions, team needs and analytics.

But after five years of drafts with Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer calling the shots, certain tendencies have begun to develop, which can give us an idea of how the Vikings’ higher-ups might be thinking on draft night.

Here are the notable trends from the last half-decade of Vikings drafts, with some added factoids from Arif Hasan of TheAthletic.com and the Zone Coverage Football Machine.

The Vikings have drafted five wide receivers over the previous five years. Four of the five were taken in the fifth round or later with Stefon Diggs being the most successful. Moritz Boehringer, Stacy Coley and Rodney Adams are no longer on the team. Laquon Treadwell, the lone high pick of the bunch, may be on his way out after three below-average seasons.

WHAT THIS TREND COULD MEAN: If the trend of drafting late receivers continues, the Vikings may target a player like Antoine Wesley to compete for the third receiving spot. Or if the team sees its struggles to identify late-round receiving talent aside from Diggs, they may opt to devote a higher pick like Deebo Samuel to the position to help out Kirk Cousins.

Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly (USA Today Sports)

-Minnesota has only drafted one safety (Jayron Kearse) over the past five seasons – two if you include Jack Tocho, who converted from corner to safety. Both were taken in the seventh round. Their starting safety opposite Harrison Smith is now undrafted product Anthony Harris, Kearse is a likely backup, and Derron Smith was recently acquired from the defunct AAF league.

WHAT THIS TREND COULD MEAN: Expect this trend to continue and have the Vikings take a safety like Mark McLaurin out of Mississippi State in the final round – if they take one at all.

-The Vikings have not drafted a quarterback since Teddy Bridgewater in the first round of the 2014 draft.

WHAT THIS TREND COULD MEAN: With three quarterbacks already under contract, it looks like another year of a quarterback-free draft, so don’t expect the Vikings to nab North Dakota State boy Easton Stick in the sixth round.

–Seven consecutive years the Vikings have taken a linebacker in the seventh round, who possessed above-average workout numbers (broad jump, vertical, 10-yard split). This includes every year of the Spielman-Zimmer partnership. Going back 10 years, the Vikings have selected at least one linebacker on Day 3 of the draft. The only exception to this rule is Stephen Weatherly, who was converted to defensive end after the draft.

WHAT THIS TREND COULD MEAN: Considering this has been one of the team’s most consistent habits, expect them to round out their draft class with someone like Buffalo’s Khalil Hodge in the seventh round to compete on special teams as a rookie.

The Vikings drafted California’s Devante Downs in the seventh round in 2018. Photo Credit: Jennifer Buchanan (USA Today Sports)

-The Vikings have selected a tight end in the fifth or sixth rounds each of the last four years. David Morgan II (2016) and Tyler Conklin (2018) are still on the roster, while MyCole Pruitt and Bucky Hodges did not work out. Per Hasan, the Vikings have valued tight ends with 33-inch verticals or higher.

WHAT THIS TREND COULD MEAN: If this trend continues, forget about T.J. Hockenson or Noah Fant. Instead, get used to names like Dawson Knox or Foster Moreau.

-The Spielman-Zimmer tandem has never selected a defensive lineman above the third round. According to Hasan, the Vikings prefer 3-technique defensive tackles under 300 pounds with fast short-shuttle times (better than 4.65) and nose tackles over 310 pounds with good results in explosive workouts (vertical above 28”, broad jump better than 8’4”). At defensive end, they look for three-cone times under 7.3, broad jumps over 9’7” and 10-yard splits under 1.67.

WHAT THIS TREND COULD MEAN: The Vikings could be in the market for both defensive end and defensive tackle help in this draft. If so, late Day 2 picks like Khalen Saunders could fit this trend, or perhaps Ben Banogu early in Day 3 where they’ve taken Jaleel Johnson and Jalyn Holmes the past two years.

–Of the nine offensive linemen drafted under Zimmer and Spielman, seven have come in rounds 4-7. Of those seven, only Danny Isidora (2017 fifth-round pick) remains. The two that have been picked on Day 1 or Day 2 of the draft, Pat Elflein and Brian O’Neill, are projected starters.

WHAT THIS TREND COULD MEAN: The Vikings shown willingness to buck this trend with Round 2 and Round 3 picks of starting-caliber linemen the last two years. Will they be even more aggressive and use Pick 18 on Garrett Bradbury or Cody Ford? Odds are they will still add to the line on Day 3, which could produce prospects like Ben Powers, Kaleb McGary or Michael Jordan.

Photo Credit: John David Mercer (USA Today Sports)

-In the last four drafts, the Vikings have not drafted a cornerback below the second round (except Tocho, who quickly switched to safety). Trae Waynes (first round), Mackensie Alexander (second round) have panned out nicely after multiple years of development, while Mike Hughes (first round) is on a positive trajectory. Per Hasan, when they’ve acquired cornerbacks in the past, they have valued 40-yard dash times better than 4.48.

WHAT THIS TREND COULD MEAN: With Holton Hill suspended, Mike Hughes recovering from an ACL tear and Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes in contract years, it stands the reason the Vikings could again be looking at corner. Amani Oruwariye, Byron Murphy and Rock Ya-Sin would be splashy names.

-Rick Spielman loves amassing third-day picks. He’d gotten multiple seventh-rounders for four straight years until 2018, and he’s had multiple sixth-rounders four of five years. Since being named GM in 2012, the Vikings have 47 Day 3 picks, almost seven per season.

WHAT THIS TREND COULD MEAN: With four picks between 190-250, expect Spielman to wheel and deal in the final two rounds.

–Over the last four years, the Vikings have drafted 14 ACC players – far more than their next closest preferred conference (Big Ten, seven players). On the other end of the spectrum, they’ve only drafted two Big XII players in that time frame (OL Tyrus Thompson and LB Elijah Lee, neither of whom made the team).

CONFERENCE NUMBER OF DRAFT PICKS
ACC 14
BIG 10 7
SEC 6
PAC 12 5
AAC 3
BIG 12 2
Non-Power 10

WHAT THIS TREND COULD MEAN: Maybe starting reading up those Clemson defensive linemen like Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence or Clelin Ferrell. And could this mean that part of the FordSamiaPowers trio at Oklahoma won’t be landing in Minnesota?

-Taking a look at how the Vikings have compiled their starters, Minnesota has done a much better job identifying (and more aggressively pursuing) starting talent on the defensive side in the draft. Nine of their 11 projected starters (in a nickel defense) were drafted by the Vikings, and six of them in the first or second round. The projected offensive starters (in “11” personnel) have six players drafted by the Vikings including Treadwell, who may not hang on to that role. Five of the six were drafted in the first three rounds (Diggs the exception).

WHAT THIS TREND COULD MEAN: Don’t be shocked if the Vikings go defense in the first round. With a deep offensive line class that could have highly-regarded prospects there in Round 2, Zimmer and Spielman may find another defensive gem to keep that unit young as its veterans start to age.

CHECK OUT THE REST OF THE
ZONE COVERAGE DRAFT GUIDE

TOP 40 PLAYERS
MINNESOTA VIKINGS NEEDS & TARGETS
POSITIONAL TOP 5 RANKINGS & VIDEO BREAKDOWNS
INMAN: NFC NORTH WORST CASE DRAFT SCENARIOS
SENIOR BOWL CENTRAL (PODCASTS, VIDEOS, ARTICLES)
INMAN’S MOCK DRAFT COLLECTION

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